Would you believe that our Swooper Citizens theme of the week is Teamwork? Mrs. Vanetti and I were discussing how this is the PERFECT topic for today. Yesterday, at 3:15 pm, we were told to prepare to hold classes at our alternate site in Goleta, as evacuation orders were being issued. Teachers worked together to pack up classroom necessities, rework lesson plans, and organize books and supplies. We helped one another load cars and worked through schedule changes. Talk about TEAMWORK!!!

When I arrived at Girl’s Inc. this morning, the large storage tubs that I had packed back in September were waiting for me in our temporary classroom space. All I needed was a pair of scissors to cut open the zip ties so that I could access the supplies! After a quick text to the teachers, a pair of scissors was delivered to my room, and I was able to get the classroom set up and ready for the day.

Fast forward to our Swooper Citizens lesson, we asked the students to describe a time when they either witnessed or were a part of an act of teamwork. We defined teamwork as:  Working together to accomplish a common goal.  Next, I showed the students some video clips and asked them to give me a thumbs up if the video showed teamwork or a thumbs down if the clip did not show teamwork. Have a look at some of the examples I used:

We wrapped up the lesson with a read aloud: The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza. I bet you know what that book is about! Teamwork!

Here’s some super high-fives for all the teamwork today. Yay!

It’s 3D!

I had so much fun introducing students to three-dimensional shapes this week using the clever book Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy.

“Captain Invincible and his intrepid space-dog, Comet, are on a perilous journey back to Earth!

Throughout their mission, the fearless captain and his canine sidekick encounter asteroids, poisonous gas, and alien beings. But will their knowledge of three-dimensional shapes, including cubes, cones, and pyramids, help our heroes navigate past these obstacles — and make it safely home.” (Amazon)

I introduced each three-dimensional shape with a poster and a corresponding foam block. The students had the opportunity to hold each of the shapes and discover the number of surfaces, edges, and faces.

We practiced sorting pictures of items, using the new vocabulary words we had learned. Students then had fun playing an alien-themed sorting game on the Smart Board.

To further demonstrate their understanding of three-dimensional shapes, students used the Seesaw app to find these shapes around the classroom. They were encouraged to label the shape using their best guess spelling or the spelling on the shape posters.

We even used the recording tool!

I loved how engaged the students were in these activities. There will be more three-dimensional shape fun to come!

Magnet Wall Finale

We met with the Middle School Engineers for the big reveal of the magnet wall creations. The kindergarteners were practically jumping out of their seats with excitement and anticipation.

Here is the pirate ship with a treasure box and pink and purple princesses.

The loop-d-loop with each of the students’ names on it as well as custom stoppers.

The tree, unicorn, and special ice cream. Look at the details!

The puzzle pieces that had to fit together and be decorated with dinosaurs, a unicorn, and buildings.

We went out to the Magnet Wall and put the pieces to work.

What an impressive showing! Thank you to our MS Engineers for all their hard work and dedication to this project. You made these kindergarteners VERY happy!

Turtles and Art?

We had the most magnificent field trip this past Friday as part of our Swooper Citizens program. When I originally planned the trip to the Turtle Conservancy of Ojai several months ago, my thought was to link the trip to the character trait of Responsibility, focusing on conservation and sustainability. This trip turned out to be so much more!

While planning the trip, I remembered that my friend’s nephew developed an app a few years ago called Turtle Friends. This free conservation app was invented by then-8-year-olds to watch, track, and protect sea turtles around the world. There were 196 backers who pledged $26,403 to help bring this project to life. I thought it would be fun for the students to meet these two inventors and learn about their efforts to help sea turtles. My friend offered to have our classes visit with the boys in a special space she started in memory of her sister: the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation. As luck would have it, the artist in residence at this time, Yassi Mazandi, was inspired by the tortoise shells at the Turtle Conservancy to create beautiful watercolor paintings. I could not believe my luck!

We arrived at the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation space and were in awe of the beauty inside. On display were sculptures and beautiful watercolors from Yassi Mazandi.

Floral skeleton and seed pod scultpures.

Watercolor paintings of shells.

Ms. Mazandi shared her inspiration with the students. She was a natural presenter who clearly enjoyed interacting with the children.

Next, we met Sarah Otterstrom, the executive director of the nonprofit group Paso Pacifico. Paso Pacifico helps restore and protect areas in South America.

Ms. Otterstrom showed us one of the tools they are using to help with conservation: the investEGGator. This pretend turtle egg looks just like the real thing but has an internal GPS. When turtle eggs are stolen, the rangers can track down the thieves!

The students then met the two boys who started Turtle Friends.

The boys spoke about their conservation app where one can watch, track, and protect sea turtles around the world. In creating the app, they had 196 backers who pledged a total of $26,403 to help bring this project to life. The boys also shared the importance of using glass or metal straws and reusable snack bags. (The students could relate to this and eagerly shared that they each have a reusable straw and snack bags from Dr. McCauley’s visit back in October.)

Inspired, we hopped on the bus and headed to the Turtle Conservancy of Ojai.

We were greeted by Max, who shared the mission of the Conservancy with the students. He then took us on a breathtaking tour where students had the rare opportunity to interact with turtles and tortoises that no longer exist in the wild.

Look how fast they walk!

We saw the incubator room as well as the nursery.

The finale was getting to feed and pet the Giant Galapagos Tortoise.


I am so grateful to all those who made this memorable field trip happen. As a way to give back and as part of a collaborative project, students will now work on creating watercolor paintings of turtles. It is my hope that we will sell these works of art and donate the proceeds to the Turtle Conservancy of Ojai. More details to come soon.



Holiday Road!

We jetted to Mexico and Germany to learn more about holiday traditions around the world. Students had their boarding passes, passports, suitcases, and travel itineraries in hand and were greeted by Flight Attendant Mieke when it was time to board the plane.

We were ready for take-off.

Once we landed, students glued their passport stamp for Mexico into their passports.

I read aloud The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola.

“In Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de la Nochebuena, the flower of the Holy Night. At Christmastime, the flower blooms and flourishes, the quite exquisite red stars lighting up the countryside.

This Mexican legend tells how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child. Beloved Newbery Honor-winning author and Caldecott honor-winning illustrator Tomie dePaola has embraced the legend using his own special feeling for Christmas. His glorious paintings capture not only the brilliant colors of Mexico and its art, but also the excitement of the children preparing for Christmas and the hope of Lucida, who comes to see what makes a gift truly beautiful.” (Amazon)

After listening to the story, students made a craft that reflects the holiday celebration.

Next, the students grabbed their suitcases, took out their Celebrations Airlines tickets, and boarded their flight to Germany.

Upon arrival, students added their Germany stamps to their passports and then learned about the German tradition of making gingerbread houses and gingerbread people. The students loved the book that I read aloud, The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.

“Remember how the Gingerbread Boy is eaten by the fox? Well, not this Gingerbread Baby in a delicious twist to a favorite old tale.

It all begins when Matti opens the oven too soon and out jumps a cheeky little Gingerbread Bay. He leads Matti’s mother and father, the dog and the cat. And a whole colorful cast of characters on a rollicking chase through the village and into the forest, staying just out of reach, daring them to catch him along the way.

But Matti’s not with them. He’s at home in the borders making what turns out to be a gingerbread house into which the Gingerbread Baby runs. Only Matti knows he is safely inside. And readers will too when they look under the lift-the-flap gingerbread house at the end of the story, and there he is!” (Amazon)

Students then make their own gingerbread ornament.

Tomorrow we will fly to England and Italy. Ready? Set? Jet!


We’re Leaving on a Jet Plane….

When the students arrived in class today, they were told to pack their suitcases and get ready for the trip of a lifetime! We are going around the world in five days to learn all about holiday celebrations. For this trip, the students will carry their suitcases, passports, plane tickets, and travel itinerary.

While we were still in our home country, we learned about three winter holidays that are celebrated in America. The first is Hanukkah. Students listened to the story Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat by Naomi Howland.

“Sadie and her four little brothers are very poor and always hungry. On the first night of Chanukah, Sadie performs a generous act, and in turn receives a frying pan that cooks up sizzling hot, golden latkes on command. Sadie tells her brothers never to use the magic pan, but when she goes out one afternoon, the mischievous boys can’t resist. They remember the words to start the pan cooking . . . but what were the words to make it stop? This humorous tale of generosity and greed is accompanied by bright, cheerful illustrations depicting a traditional Russian village. An author’s note and a recipe for Sadie’s latkes are included.” (Amazon)

Students then had an opportunity to color a wooden dreidel.

Next, I touched on Christmas. Students listened to some Christmas songs and then completed a Cloze activity where they had to record the missing words to the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  The children literally sang while they worked. We noticed that there were several high-frequency words included in this activity!

The final winter holiday that we explored in America is Kwanzaa. Students watched this clip from Sesame Street.

They then created a handprint wreath and added each of the seven principals.

Tracing and cutting out the hand prints was a great fine motor exercise!

Finally, the students recorded the first leg of their journey in their personal travel itinerary.

Tomorrow, we are off to Mexico!


We are in the middle of our unit of study about bats. So far, students have learned the life cycle and the body parts of a bat. They know what bats eat and where they live. Students also learned some interesting facts about bats.

I introduced the vocabulary words echolocation and nocturnal. Here are two fun music videos that we just can’t stop singing! (I promised the students that I would share these with you.)


In art class, students painted mega bats.

I love the uniqueness of each bat…and they are double sided!

We made shape bat sunset scenes last week during Friday Fun.

Also, students had a special visitor to science class…look at these specimens!

We will wrap up our bat unit soon, and then jet off to a special unit on holidays and traditions around the world.

November Morning Exploring Tubs

Though the month of November is quickly coming to a close, I wanted to share with you the November Morning Exploring tubs and the concepts they cover. The students could not get enough of these tubs…all of the little manipulatives were very exciting to them! The explanations for each tub are above the images.

Tub 1: Students choose a number from 0-20. The then link together the three different ways to show the value of that number. These ways include a ten or double-ten frame, tally marks, and pictures.



Tub 2: Using playdough, students fill in a ten frame to make a number. Then students must figure out how to complete the equation…who says kindergarteners can’t do algebra?!


Tub 3: Students use tweezers to choose a pumpkin. On the bottom of the pumpkin is a two digit number greater than 20. One student then spins the spinner, deciding on “greater than” or “less than.” Students must compare their numbers, and the student whose number matches the spinner gets to keep the pumpkins.


Tub 4: Students choose a High-frequency word and spell it using letter cards. They link the letters together to spell the words.


Tub 5: Students chose a number card and build the number using sunflower seeds.


Tub 6: Students follow the outline of the acorn with small stickers and then count up the total number of stickers used. The children LOVE using stickers and peeling and sticking is great for fine motor development!


Tub 7: Students choose a turkey container and count the number of glass beads inside. They record the two-digit number.


Tub 8: Students dig through a small sensory bin to find leaves. On the leaves are high-frequency words. Students read the word and match the leaves to their play mat.

I can not believe that in three short days, December will be here! It’s time to switch out the Morning Exploring Tubs!

50th Day HOORAY!


We have been having a blast celebrating our 50th day of school! The kindergarteners came to school dressed up like people did in the 1950’s.

The classroom was transformed into a diner!

There was even a drive-in!

At our Sock Hop students read records and slid them into the jukebox.

They played with jacks, hula hooped, played with paddle balls…

and tried to do a bunch of things in 50 seconds. Here is the recording sheet the students used:

We ended our Sock Hop with a delicious banana split!

It’s hard to believe that in 50 more days we will celebrate our 100th day of school!


Thankfulness-The Gratitude Project

In Swooper Citizens today, we discussed Thankfulness , which means to appreciate what you have or what someone does for you. We asked students to share things for which they are thankful. We then asked how different their lives would be if they did not have those things. What if you didn’t have an iPad or a pet? What if you didn’t have a bed or food? How would your life be different without books or your family? What things can you live without?

We then read the book The Most Thankful Thing by Lisa McCourt. The students had fun guessing for what the mom is most thankful.

“When a little girl asks her mom what her “most thankful thing ever” is, Mom turns the question into a fun trip down memory lane. Turning the pages of Mom’s photo album, they discover many wonderful moments in Mom’s life, from summer camp to winning a trophy in a soccer tournament, from singing onstage to her wedding day. But one event in Mom’s whole life is the very best ever — the birth of her precious little girl.” (Amazon)

As a way to follow up on the theme of Thankfulness, we introduced The Gratitude Project to the students. Over the course of the next week and a half, we challenge the students to show gratitude to three different people. Here are some quick and easy ideas:


Once your child completes an act of gratitude, please comment on this blog post. Tell us what your child did and perhaps what the person’s response was. We can’t wait to hear and see the students showing gratitude!